How Gen Z Can Help End Your Worker Shortage
Here’s a look at the newest working generation.
With an estimated 11.3 million job openings nationwide, businesses are under increasing pressure to find ways of solving a growing worker shortage. To meet this challenge, many employers are focusing efforts on recruiting from the 67 million people born between 1997 and 2012, known as Generation Z. While Gen Z employees are often tech proficient and keen to learn new skills, recruiting and retaining these workers has become a major challenge for employers in the worker exodus known as the Great Resignation.
As the older members of the Gen Z cohort pour out of schools and colleges and into the labor force, employment experts are advising companies not to make the mistake of thinking of them as millennials 2.0. Consulting firm Deloitte confirms in their Welcome to Generation Z study that Gen Z will be bringing an entirely different worldview and perspective on their careers and how to succeed in the workplace.
Of course, it is hard to make generalizations about such a large group of people from a variety of backgrounds. But surveys show that Gen Z employees often share a number of characteristics that set them apart from other generations in the workforce. To start, they are the first generation to have never known a world without the internet, so their familiarity with technology gives them an easy ability to learn new systems and customize these tools, Deloitte said. Also, many members of Generation Z experienced the economic hardships caused by the 2008-2009 financial crisis on their families and the impact of technological disruption on several industries, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. So, they tend to be very focused on their future financial well-being.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Generation Z has had a particularly hard time at work during the pandemic. Nearly 1 in 5 work in restaurants, bars, and hotels. According to survey firm YPulse, 80% of Gen Zers say they have felt burnt out because of work. As a result, a quarter of those surveyed said they have quit their jobs in the last year, part of the 4 million people who have left work each month in the Great Resignation. More importantly, another 46% of employed respondents say they plan on leaving their current job in the next year.
While they tend to have a strong work ethic and want to develop successful careers, according to a survey by employment website Monster.com, Gen Zers also may ask for more support from their employers. Traditional tactics once used to attract new talent may miss the mark with Gen Z, and understanding their unique traits is key to tapping into what may be one the most driven workforces yet.
To retain the trust of members of this generation, recruitment firm Bridgeworks says employers need to provide Gen Z employees "with the tools and resources to manage stress and support their mental health."
One factor for potential employers to consider is that most members of the generation believe that learning is the key to a successful career. A study by LinkedIn Learning found, for example, that 69% of Gen Z learners will spend time studying if it helps their current jobs, while 47% said they were willing to train to gain the skills needed in a different function or to find new roles internally.
Companies can also benefit by connecting these younger employees with experienced mentors. A study conducted by the Springtide Research Institute revealed that young people really want to work under a supervisor who can help guide them—most preferring to work under someone they can relate to professionally and personally. Some 73% even report being more motivated to do a better job when they feel their supervisor genuinely cares about them. And they crave opportunities to learn and grow. PayScale reports that 3 of every 4 Gen Zers are interested in working multiple roles within one company, allowing them to further expand their skill sets.
Gen Z’s ease with technology allows companies to use new methods for educating employees. Quick adoption of advanced digital learning tools and platforms allows organizations to develop effective classroom environments and bring them into the work environment, says Deloitte. With this learning technology in place, not only are companies able to share the full knowledge of the organization all in one place, but also they are able to share specific learnings at just the right time, and make them widely and immediately accessible to everyone.
Members of Gen Z are the first to have grown up with smartphones, social media, and artificial intelligence. Rather than just being fluent, Western Governors University describes Gen Zers as technology dependent, as they are accustomed to technology being integrated in a variety of ways in their personal and professional lives. "Companies and management will want to demonstrate to their Gen Zers a healthy embrace for new technology," the report noted. "Not just in the physical workplace, but also by making accommodations for employees to work from home and other locations rather than being trapped in a cubicle for 40+ hours weekly."
Because of their online connectedness, companies are advised to frequently communicate with Gen Z workers, more so than they might have done with previous generations. Plainly put, "the Gen Z workforce wants feedback and transparency," says employee management tech firm Connecteam.
Although members of Generation Z are adjacent in age to millennials, their outlook and approach to work is often subtly different. A survey by business consultants EY found that Generation Z’s top priorities are money, careers, and personal safety. When asked what they were most concerned about, 67% responded yes to "having enough money;" 64% to "getting a good job;" and 62% identified bad treatment of others because of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Generation Z members often express a positive attitude about their workplace. EY reports that 44% of the generation value mental health, 52% are concerned with gun violence, 53% are passionate about sexuality and gender identity, and 62% value environmental sustainability. A company that holds strong, transparent stances on these issues will likely best attract Generation Z .
Employers should consider adjusting compensation packages, aligning them with some of the specific values Gen Zers have, to make them more attractive and competitive. Benefits such as full health coverage, unlimited PTO, and commuter benefits are some of the most commonly used. These are benefits likely to ensure that all employees, not just members of GenZ, find satisfaction in their jobs and are part of the strategy to retain trusted employees.
The youngest generation is ready for the workplace. They are tech savvy, forward-thinking, and prepared to absorb everything available to them. As long as recruiters are prepared and equipped with the right knowledge and skill to attract and maintain them, companies will be assured of having sufficient numbers of highly skilled workers to meet their future growth demands.
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